Learning about the deep symbolism that many Renaissance era painters incorporated into their work, and the ways that they used techniques like perspective and shadow to increase the reality of their works reminded me of something I saw when I visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Deep in the vast Renaissance art collection, I came across a painting that had an information plaque next to it. Instead of explaining the historical context of the painting like most other plaques did, this one pointed out a 500 year old joke. If you looked closely, the artist had painted a life-sized fly onto the painting. On first glance, it looked like it was real, that a fly had gotten into the museum and landed on this painting, and in a couple minutes I might see it in the next exhibit. But no, the artist had made the intentional choice to “deface” his own painting, and include this joke. I found it interesting to think about last night, when Professor Plesch was discussing the use of mimesis as an increasingly serious and appreciated for of art, because sometimes, memesis is just a joke.
Here is the picture I took of the painting: